I’m 18 years old. I like big crowds, music that makes no sense to anybody else, and Glee. I have fun spending time with my friends; having long and detailed conversations about the exact colour of the dress X was wearing yesterday, sitting on rocks at the beach at 7pm on a Saturday evening having deep, philosophical (and highly imaginative) insights into life, and lounging on someone’s lawn with the grass under my head and the stars above it.
I spend my weekends giving my time away to those who need it more, and those are the best hours of an average week for me. Sounds at odds? Read on.
I confess to being a bit of an idealist. You know; freedom and equal human rights and all that. All of us born after the late 80’s are idealists at some level. We were lucky enough to be born into the Y generation, the ones who reached their teens just in time for Google and the advent of free, unrestricted information. Twitter, Facebook and iEverything. The age of uncensored news and news that reaches you in 30 seconds or less. A post conflict Sri Lanka, and a global revolution. The age of ‘anything is possible if you just believe’.
It’s important. Music, the opposite sex, gossip, celebrity stalkership. They’re some all-important fundamentals of growing up. But when that becomes your whole world, the proverbial box and comfort zone you refuse to snap out of, that right there is a big problem. You see, all clichés aside, we really are the future. If we continue in the same vein, stretching our minds only far enough to wonder what our next status update will be, the world is heading into serious trouble. The problems of the world are getting bigger and more complex. Just reading about it, or talking about it alone is not going to help. You have to get out there and see for yourself, and not just from the perspective of a moving vehicle.
We’re teenagers; we’re YOUNG, bursting to the brim with life and energy and sheer vitality. Ideas that could change the world start from this generation. If you donated a couple of writing books to a child today, you could be the person who enabled the education of the inventor of a cure for Aids. You have the power to change millions of lives with one simple action and you don’t even know it.
Last Christmas I was volunteering with STITCH at an Elders Home. We sang carols, gave out Christmas gifts and spent ages talking to the achchis and seeyas there. It wasn’t even an effort, because once you sit down with these people, its just fascinating. I had one lady asking me if Facebook was a dating service, and if so, how would you get on it (she was kidding….I think). There was no crying or exclamations of gratitude, and we really weren’t expecting it. But you take one look at the smiles on their faces and you’re done for. Taken in, hook line and sinker. Committed for life to whatever your cause may be. I’m a changed person, and I owe that to the little smiles and rewards of spending my time doing something I absolutely LOVE.
Who’ll change the world today? You will. Step up to everything you can be. Volunteer, it’ll define you for life.